Speculation prior to the end of the season said that Luis Figo’s representatives had been at the advanced stages of talks with various clubs – Liverpool included. Yesterday the Spanish press reported that the Portugese star had been released by Real Madrid, and some UK websites then said Figo had said he wants Liverpool or Manchester United to come and get him.
All this was denied though yesterday when Figo spoke to Portugese TV. Figo claimed the news came as a surprise to him and that he wanted to stay for the remaining year of his current deal.
He told TVI: "I want to honour my contract, but if that is not their wish, we will have to find an agreement."
Figo lost his place in the starting line-up to Michael Owen. Raul had been selected all season ahead of Owen, as he holds a lot of power within the club. Poor results throughout the season meant that something had to change, but rather than dropping Raul the coach decided to move him into a deeper role at the expense of Figo. It’s almost certain that Figo and Real will play games over who said what to instigate Figo leaving, as most players tend to have clauses in contracts where they stand to receive a payout if their club lets them leave. Figo said: "I have no knowledge of this information, but if that has been published today, then there will be more in the coming days. I’m not playing, so I understand that it can’t be very nice for the club to pay me for not playing. But there are other players in the same situation."
Figo is the record holder for Portugese caps with 110, and has just come out of international retirement. Portugal face their main rivals for qualification – Slovakia – in Lisbon on June 4, before playing Estonia four days later.
There’ll no doubt be more to come on this story as the summer silly season continues, but it’s pretty unlikely that Figo’s agent won’t at least have some initial offers on the table for his player.